Fr. Tony Palazzolo, a Food For The Poor Speaker, recently returned from leading a Mission trip to Haiti, and he shared his reflections on the experience.
This was one of the most memorable Mission experiences for me personally. Why? Because of the dramatic change/improvement we experienced in [the village of] La Fosse from the previous year.
We first went to Marie Clarac Girls School, which was very impressive. The girls at the school sang numerous songs to us and we were able to visit some of the classrooms of the younger children and pass out candy with permission of the supervisors. The children were immaculate and beautifully behaved. It was a joy to visit.
We then went to the warehouse in Port-au-Prince to help with the feeding program. As I normally do, I went on into the courtyard and enjoyed interaction with the people waiting to be fed. We encourage singing of hymns, blessings, and conversation with the people waiting.
The next day we visited the Montesino Orphanage and School. We are able to have much interaction with the children, playing with them, talking with them, and experiencing their joy at living there. The young priest, who was in charge, has a great heart for these children, and is sad because he is being replaced.
By all accounts, our visit to La Fosse was the high point of the trip, particularly for those who’ve been there before. Our hearts were moved by the impoverished village we saw last year. So when we returned this year, we were overwhelmed by the miraculous change. The whole village came out to greet us and we were gathered up by their love and joy. Tears of joy, particularly for [fellow Mission traveler] Annie and me, were hard to control.
Prior to the visit, I decided to bless each of the 32 homes with the families on the front porch. We gave each family a Bible in Creole, a 10 inch high crucifix with a bronze Jesus on the front, and a Ziploc bag with toothbrushes, toothpaste, lotion, and soap. It was a significantly emotional and spiritual experience for me. At each home, I would ask after presenting them with the Bible, “WHO IS THE BOSS OF THIS HOME?” Twenty-eight out of the 32 families answered, “Jesus”. I cannot recall this experience, even ten days later, without tears of joy in my eyes and my heart.
The next day, we visited the elderly village to visit and interact with the residents and assist with care. Everyone was assigned a task, cleaning, bathing or interacting with the residents. The nun who is the director is a precious lady and is so devoted to these people that you can feel it in her heart. It is always a most beneficial visit.
Then we went to the Angels of Hope Home, celebrated mass, and interacted with the children. Again, this is one of the more impressive of the venues that we visited in Haiti. It is always neat, clean, and the children are obviously well cared for. We then went to the Santo Farm for a visit. It is always interesting to see the improvements that are continually made at this impressive facility.
As always, I am deeply appreciative of the opportunity to lead these mission trips. On this particular trip, I was moved spiritually and emotionally in ways that were beyond my expectation. That experience provides me with an opportunity to share with the many parishes I visit, the necessary and loving work we do for the poorest of the poor. Thank you for this great opportunity. Thank you to all who have any part in putting this whole experience together.
Love and prayers,
Fr. Tony Palazzolo